Monday, May 6, 2013

Two significant developments in the Parking Plot

COAST is pleased to report two important developments in the Parking Plot:

Oral Argument
This morning Hamilton County's First District Court of Appeals held oral argument on the right of Cincinnati voters to force to referendum the Parking Plot.

One month and two days ago, more than 19,803 signatures were submitted to the City Finance Director for certification of the Parking Plot referendum to the ballot.  The Hamilton County Board of Elections has confirmed that more than 12,000 of those signatures were valid, well more than needed to secure a vote on the issue.

The City maintains that because an "emergency clause" was inserted into the ordinance by six votes, but the Ordinance itself passed by a bare majority, it is exempt from referendum under the City Charter.

But the City Charter provides:
The initiative and referendum powers are reserved to the people of the city on all questions which the Council is authorized to control by legislative action....
In other words, ordinances passed as "emergencies" are simply not exempted.

That's what Judge Bob Winkler wisely ruled at the end of March.  He allowed the referendum to proceed under a plain reading of the City Charter.

A decision may be issued within the month.

Next, the City has committed to following through on layoffs regardless of the outcome of the court case.  Read that in the Enquirer, here.

The reasoning of the City is that -- even if they were to win the appeals case (we do not expect that), the legal issues will not be sufficiently resolved to allow for the issuance of the bonds needed for the Parking Plot.  Thus, layoffs are inevitable.

That's half good news and half bad.  The good news is the City finally, finally, finally will be forced to structurally balance its budget.  The bad news is that its priorities remain skewed, and their cuts will fall heaviest on police and firemen.

So, big, dynamic developments are underway!


  1. For clarity reasons, here is the rest of Article II, Section 3 of the City Charter:

    "The initiative and referendum powers are reserved to the people of the city on all questions which the council is authorized to control by legislative action; such powers shall be exercised in the manner provided by the laws of the state of Ohio. Emergency ordinances upon a yea and nay vote must receive the vote of a majority of the members elected to the council, and the declaration of an emergency and the reasons for the necessity of declaring said ordinances to be emergency measures shall be set forth in one section of the ordinance, which section shall be passed only upon a yea and nay vote of two-thirds of the members elected to the council upon a separate roll call thereon. If the emergency section fails of passage, the clerk shall strike it from the ordinance and the ordinance shall take effect at the earliest time allowed by law."

    Read the rest of the city charter here

  2. Yes, and the point is the that the Charter expressly provides that ALL ordinances are subject to referendum, and does NOT expressly provide that Emergency Ordinances are exempt from referendum, ergo, ALL ordinances are subject to referendum.

    It's a pretty simple concept that Judge Bob Winkler ruled was pro-referendum in its application.


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